Atlanta: GM - Jerry Nadeau interview

NOTE: Of the 11 races run since Atlanta Motor Speedway was re-configured to its current 1.54-mile layout in November 1997, Pontiac has won five times including a win in this race last year. Jerry Nadeau in the No. 01 U.S. Army Pontiac Grand Prix...

NOTE: Of the 11 races run since Atlanta Motor Speedway was re-configured to its current 1.54-mile layout in November 1997, Pontiac has won five times including a win in this race last year. Jerry Nadeau in the No. 01 U.S. Army Pontiac Grand Prix starts 14th in Sunday's Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500, and he posted his first career NASCAR Winston Cup win here at Atlanta in November 2000.

JERRY NADEAU, NO. 01 U.S. ARMY PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:

ON YOUR QUALIFYING RUN YESTERDAY. "I'm happy with that. I mean, I've started up front, been to the back. I think if you've got a good race car here you can run pretty much anywhere on the racetrack. Of course, I would've liked to have been a little bit better than 14th, but I think the guys did a good job. This car never turned a lap and is a brand new race car. We've been fighting loose ever since we got off the truck, and I think I might've gone a little bit too far and we got it a little too tight for qualifying. But other than that, the guys did a great job."

THREE OF YOUR LAST FOUR STARTS HERE HAVE RESULTED IN TOP-FIVE FINISHES. WHAT IS IT ABOUT THIS TRACK THAT SUITS YOU? "It's a fun racetrack. I don't think it has anything to do with the area. I mean, we run good at Charlotte, we run good at a lot of mile-and-a-half racetracks. I seem to get acclimated real quick with them. It's weird, when I first came to this place I hated it. Bill Elliott wanted me to come out here and test one of his cars, and I came out here and wrecked it on the second lap. I could just never get a hold of this racetrack, and then all of a sudden I figured it out and it's been fun. It's a neat track because you can race all over the place. You're racing yourself, and it's not like you're racing anybody else out there. You're running your own limits on this racetrack. When your stuff is together good, you can dominate."

ARE YOU AWARE IN THE CAR THAT THIS IS THE FASTEST TRACK?  "Yea, it's cool.
It's no big deal.  It's really pretty fun."

YOU STARTED THE YEAR IN A UNIQUE SITUATION WITH A NEW TEAM THAT HAD A NEW SPONSOR, A NEW CREW CHIEF, THE NEW PONTIAC GRAND PRIX. IT'S EARLY, BUT EVALUATE YOUR SEASON SO FAR. "Obviously we'd like to be a lot better than we are in points. We had our best finish last weekend but lost about six positions in the standings. But the points, if people look only at that, that's there problem. I think as a team we're getting better. This is only our fourth race. At Daytona we could've had a top-five run if the rain didn't happen. The last two races we lost our laps really early in the race, but then we seemed to gain on the car and we got so much better at the end of the race. So, the way I look at it, we're just learning. I think the chemistry's great, and I think the guys are starting to gel now. I mean, a lot of drivers have been here for so long. They've been with their crew chiefs for the last three or four years where their team's been intact for the three or four years. We're just a new team and we'll get it straightened out."

YOU'VE WORKED WITH CREW CHIEF RYAN PEMBERTON IN THE PAST. "Yea, I worked with him and this team for some races when Ernie Irvan was hurt in '99, so I got a good relationship with him. But it's been three or four years since he's been here, so there are lot of new guys on the team now. This is like a football team. We've got 30 guys and if one of your players doesn't fit right or work right, you've got to make all of that happen, so we're plugging away."

YOU'VE GOT A UNIQUE CAR SPONSOR GIVEN THE CURRENT SITUATION THE COUNTRY IS IN. "It's an honor to represent the U.S. Army - they're great people. My dad spent time in the Army so I got to learn a lot through him. Actually going over to meet the troops was an unbelievable learning experience. We hung out with the men and women in the Army. We slept in tents, we ate breakfast, lunch and dinner with them in the cafeterias, we shot weapons, we drove tanks, we flew in C-130 planes. I mean, we did a lot. We went from base, to base, to base and visited the troops. It's unbelievable how many NASCAR fans there really are over there. I'm sure if I win this weekend I may here them."

-gm racing-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bill Elliott , Ernie Irvan , Jerry Nadeau